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The Goal - See 'em all!
Bulldogs Bash defenseless Spartans, 45-7
Fresno, CA – The #22-ranked Fresno State Bulldogs (7-1, 5-0) did not look past their “defenseless” WAC rival to its next two games against hated Boise State and #1 USC to bash the San Jose State Spartans (1-8, 0-6), 45-7. The Bulldogs moved at will and Coach Dick Tomey of SJS, known for formerly coaching the famed Arizona “Desert Swarm” defense, has a defense that still needs to learn the meaning of the word “swarm”. FSU QB Paul Pinegar’s rifled passes met wide-open targets throughout the evening, rarely being challenged by Spartans in the secondary. When they did challenge, the Spartans dropped passes as did the Bulldog receivers on several opportune occasions including Pinegar’s first pass of the game. However, the culprit, Paul Williams came up big the rest of the game with 137 receiving yards and an outstanding TD catch. Pinegar passed for 368 yards and 3 TDs and ran for one while RB Wendell Mathis picked up 105 yards and a TD against the Spartans. All will assuredly be more challenged this Thursday night when hated Boise comes to town, and even more so a week from Saturday when they visit the Trojans in the LA Coliseum. Collegefootballfan.com was asked its opinion in a pre-game radio interview with KMJ580’s Dog Talk Show, and we came up slightly incorrect as we predicted that the Bulldogs would get off to a slow start before they would roll. Instead, Fresno got off to a quick start! We attended a great tailgate party with a bunch of new friends before seeing our 102nd team toward The Goal soundly defeat our 103rd team. As we like to point out, sometimes a non-competitive game like this one is the price that we pay “to see ‘em all”!
San Jose State received the ball first and indicated that this may be a long night as they spent two time-outs during their first possession. First time starter JP Greco was the surprise QB starter for the Spartans. To no avail, his strategic meetings during the first possession resulted in a punt that gave Fresno the ball at their own 10-yard line. Against the very loose Spartan defense, Pinegar threw his first TD to punctuate the 90-yard drive with a 27 yard TD to WR Adam Jennings despite two dropped passes during the possession by his crack receiving corps. PK Kyle Zimmerman converted for the extra point, and FSU was off to a quick 7-0 lead. The Dogs started their second series from their own 25 and continued to make offense look easy as RB Bryson Sumlin ran it in from the eleven for a 14-0 lead. The one bright spot for the Spartans this evening was Soph RB Yonus Davis who racked up 136 yards rushing. Quick to the outside and tough to bring down, he picked up much yardage on his own due to speed and second effort. A 27-yard run on this series got his team down to the Fresno 31 to attempt a 48-yard FG that went wide right. After Q1, Fresno introduced its 1985 undefeated team (11-0-1) coached by former head man Dick Sweeney, for whom the playing field is named. These former Dogs finished that season ranked 16th in the nation after defeating undefeated Bowling Green in the California Bowl, 51-7. On this evening, we think that these alum could have probably suited up and given the current Bulldogs a much tougher time than the Spartans did.
Pinegar picked apart the Spartan defense once again starting from his own 31. Early in the second period from the spread offense, he scrambled out of the pocket and ran the ball in himself for a five-yard TD run to extend to a 21-0 lead. Bulldog FS Tyrone Culver got the ball back for FSU on the next Spartan series with an INT off replacement QB Adam Tafralis (2 of 8 for 13 yards; Greco went 0 for 8) that gave the Dogs possession at their own 37. However, the Spartans got excellent position back again when a snap from center went over the FSU punter’s head, and SJS recovered at the Fresno 34. Could this be that start of something? No! The Spartans got no further than the FSU 22 when a fourth and nine pass attempt fell incomplete. Fresno took advantage and drove all the way to the Fresno eight where Zimmerman kicked a 25-yard FG for a 24-0 lead. For the second week in a row, CFF.com anticipated a shutout as the first half ended.
During halftime festivities, Fresno introduced its softball coach, Maggie Wright, the NCAA’s all time winningest softball coach who was recently inducted into the Women’s International Sports Hall of Fame. Administrators including head football coach Pat Hill presented her with roses and a crystal vase. The Bulldog band performed and a contest was held where a student wearing a Bulldog helmet, caught two of three rolled up shirts (or towels) shot from an air blaster in a red bucket to win some free contest sponsored by a local sponsor. He provided more entertainment for the crowd doing his victory dance after his second and final reception. FSU has a pretty good contest going on now where two fans get selected to run on to the field with the team at the start of the Boise game. We would have entered if we could have stuck around, which we were invited to do, but, of course, work gets in the way!
San Jose’s opening second half strategy backfired as their onsides kick was recovered by the Bulldogs at the Spartan 46. Pinegar wasted little time when he fired a 37-yard TD pass to WR Paul Williams who made a spectacular leap with both hands outstretched to catch the ball near the left pylon at the goal line, kept both feet inbounds, and bounded across the goal line only 46 seconds into the period. The Spartan defender provided the tightest coverage on an FSU receiver all night on this play. With a 31-0 lead, FSU coach Pat Hill never called his Dogs off as starters played late into the final series of the game. With a game scheduled against Boise on Thursday night, we and Bulldog fans were wondering why the starters stayed in. San Jose showed no threat at all until two series later. The Spartans finally struck after taking over from their own 40. RB Davis picked up a first down on one of his elusive runs to pick up a Spartan first down on a third and five, and on the next play, TB Al Guidry broke several tackles to score from 30 yards out to avert the shut-out that we and the Fresno D anticipated. FSU led 31-7. The third quarter became more entertaining in the southwest stands as fans kept “unauthorized” beach balls from being captured by security personnel. Security intercepted the first and was soundly booed. They were more stingy than the San Jose defense. A second ball emerged, and the fun began again. Security got that one, too. They forced one more turnover than SJS did on the evening. As this went on, Fresno started a drive from its own 11, and eventually RB Wendell Mathis went off left tackle for a 3-yard score. Q3 ended 38-7, but not before Fresno threatened again. Returner Adam Jennings ran a punt back 59 yards to the SJS two-yard line before time expired in the period.
After a loss to the 16, Pinegar fired to RB Matt Rivera from there to make the score 45-7 four seconds into the final period. Guest Game Analyst Frank Lorito wondered aloud if Fresno State had run out of fireworks to shoot off the rest of the evening. It didn’t matter though as the Dogs failed to score while just eating up time for the balance of the game. Coach Hill put in some subs late in this final Fresno drive. With his third TD pass of the evening, Pinegar had tied David Carr’s all-time Fresno record of 70 TD passes (Carr, of course, an NFL first pick now with the NFL’s Houston Texans). He’ll look to break the school record this Thursday night against his nemesis, Boise State. It will be a match up of conference consequences as both teams are undefeated in the WAC at 5-0. Pinegar and fellow classmates are 0-3 against the Broncos. They’ll be pumped for this. As for the Spartans, some good news! They face winless New Mexico State (0-9, 0-5) in two weeks at home in a battle to avoid the bottom of the WAC. They finish off the season a week later against 2-6 Idaho, another WAC team demanded in CFF’s near future to attain The Goal!
Extra Points: Thanks to our friends the Chimienti family of Fresno who put us up, and put up with us, for the weekend. Sam and Marie (GGA Frank’s sister) not only went to their first Fresno game though living here for 30 years, but gave us a tour of their almond farm, a trip to Shaver Lake in the nearby mountains, and took us to a local winery for some tasting. We had to bring back some memento to Laurie besides a souvenir cup or t-shirt! Sam enjoyed the tailgate and we bet that he may be back! In addition, thanks to season-ticket holder Frank Chimienti, their son, and his frat brothers from Fresno who invited us to Zuber Realty’s tailgate party. The fare included great Mexican food along with beer and other tailgating beverages. CFF had to break away for a short while to do our radio interview with KMJ by phone while many of our fellow tailgaters listened. It went great!
Spirit at Fresno is high, but we think it was slightly off with such a weak foe this week. Wish we could be there Thursday, but we’ll be watching on ESPN. The students were into much of the game with ‘Thunder Sticks”, but many prime, Red Seats were empty. Everyone seems in tune with the PA announcer’s call for “another Fresno – First down!” The Bulldog Bounce was performed throughout the Stadium after Q3, but to be honest, it was nothing like the continuous bouncing experience that went on when we watched Penn State beat Ohio State this year in Beaver Stadium. We understand that a lot of the older alum enjoy getting Red Seats to contribute to the program, but don’t always show up leaving a lot of prime seats vacant. Maybe they can come up with a program to offer the unused seats to kids groups in the future. The crowd numbered 41,039.
We’ll add Bulldog Stadium as one of our venues that sells beer during games. UConn’s Rentschler is another, and next week we’ll be at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse where brews are also sold. We go to see a struggling Syracuse (1-8) host our 104th team, South Florida (4-3).
After the game, we joined our new Fresno friends at the Elbow Room to eat, drink, and watch highlights on ESPN, which is great on the left coast because you get to see all the results by the time the bars close. Dave from Zuber’s was there. Russ predicts (hopes) that Fresno and Hawaii will eventually become part of a “new” PAC-12. Jason offered to pay for CFF to pay to re-book our flight back to Jersey to stay for the Boise game on Thursday. We wish! His girlfriend escorted him from the Elbow Room soon afterward. CFF had a great time in Fresno. We’re rooting for them to win the rest of their regular season games this year.